Mo liosta buicéad

journey

This is NOT my typical blog, but my friend Mary has done gone and inspired me to think about what I want to do with the rest of my life.

If you haven’t read Mary Todd’s writing, visit her Facebook page and read her notes. She is a local celebrity. She travels the county on foot, inspiring people, expounding wisdom, collecting pennies and other treasures, and plotting world takeovers. She carries a walking stick with a troll attached. The troll’s name is Martha. Martha is trouble. You have to watch out for Martha.

Mary is my twin of another mother. She says she’s the bad one and I’m the good. But in the words of Shawn Spencer, “I’ve heard it both ways.”

Mary recently shared her Bucket List on Facebook, and I decided to compare hers to mine. Then I realized I don’t have one.

I do now. Thanks, Mary. Readers, whoever you may be, feel free to share your thoughts too. I challenge you to make your own list. Every life should have purpose.

MY BUCKET LIST afraid

  1. Go to Ireland for an extended stay.
  2. Meet Little Richard and tell him about my book.
  3. Have a real conversation with Steven Tyler. (And, no, I DO NOT lust after Steven Tyler nor anyone else for that matter. Sheesh, do I get tired of telling people this.) I happen to think there is a part of Steven Tyler that comprehends a part of the human soul that most people don’t, and I should like to speak with him about this matter. (I understand what this means even if I can’t explain it. God knows.)
  4. Write a minimum of five books, not all YA. All five unfinished books are floating in my brain. I have to get them out.
  5. See at least one of them published.
  6. Open a live music venue.
  7. Run an online vintage, boho, gypsy spirit clothing boutique.
  8. Organize a local writers’ group.
  9. Live healthy inside and out. (I understand what this means even if I can’t explain it. God knows.)
  10. Buy a camper and camp. A lot.
  11. Play guitar as well as I want to. (At least now I know what I need to do to achieve the goal. I finally “get” it. Don’t ask me to play for you now. Wait a little while. THEN I can play for you.)

As Porky Pig would say, “Ble, ble, ble, that’s all folks!”

intuition

Normal is just a setting on the washing machine

shoes

My journalism students start their staff meetings with a staff “check up” to see how everybody is doing. The emotion meter runs the spectrum. High. Low. Explosive. You name it. Typically, one wants to punch something, another is holding back tears, somebody is always hungry. The lone freshman enters the room in shock. Her innocence has once again put through the test. One week she witnessed the first kid her age sporting a beard. Another week she saw a kid her age who’s pregnant– not the same kid, by the way. She was dismayed.

We may be an odd bunch, but we’re TRYING to work together as a team. We’re not perfect. We’re small in number and big on learning respect and tolerance–at least that’s the goal. And not one of us is “right.” (You wouldn’t believe some of the stories I’ve heard from them–and they’re heard from me.) We are so DIFFERENT!

One of my guys summed up our cozy little staff by quoting one of his mom’s favorite sayings: Normal is just a setting on the washing machine.

Ya know, wouldn’t that make a cool title for a book?

And so apropros. I’m sure if you’ve been to this blog at all you’re sick of hearing about my writing whoas, but I am on a quest for publication. I have been for years. I was sidetracked after the death of both of my parents, and I haven’t been able to get rolling again, but I will. My published writer friends tell me to be patient. I’m trying.

Maybe I’ll run into Little Richard. I have a character based on him in one of my books. Maybe he’ll read it. Maybe he’ll like it. Maybe he’ll like it a lot. Maybe he’ll introduce me to an editor who can’t wait to publish it. And my chances of that happening? Ummm hmmmm. Again, I’m not what you’d call “right.”

I’m doing a bit of “remodeling” at my home. While moving things around, I discovered a Beth Moore book I bought quite some time ago, but the timing of me finding it was perfect, serendipitous, if you will. It’s all about insecurity.

I snuggled under a blanket and read, read, read, soaking up all of her wisdom. Wow. Beth Moore feels insecure too? Maybe I’m not so different after all. (And, hey, Friend Who Sent Me a Message Last Night Confessing Your Bout with Insecurity, again the timing is right. I will let you read the book. But you aren’t so different. If fact, you’re pretty normal. We all feel like a fish out of water sometimes.)

I think a lot of us feel insecure with our appearance, our social status, our job performance, our relationships, etc. The list goes on and on.

I love, love, love people, but they terrify me. I’ve interviewed a terrorist, a child prodigy, and millionaires and celebrities. No problem. I feel 85% comfortable doing what I do. I get a tad bit nervous before we talk, but once I get caught up in the conversation, I’m relaxed. I figure it’s a gift to be able to hear another person’s story firsthand.

But when I have to interact with people I know, I come unglued, adults particularly. I’m more relaxed around my students–if I think they like me. But if I think they don’t, I walk on eggshells. Bad.

Adults are scary people. That’s why I think I’ll just stay a kid for the rest of my life.

When I’m in charge (i.e. in teacher mode). I’m a great observer. Like the Crocodile Hunter, I can read the signs of the child creatures. I know when they’re slipping into fight or flight mode. I can USUALLY tell if they like me or don’t.

Not so much with adults. Adult beasts have learned the fine art of wearing a façade. They schmooze, butter up, slap on sarcasm, tell inside jokes, manipulate, seduce, etc. Thank goodness, most of my young students have little experience with these techniques. As a result, we get along pretty well. I am not very good at those “techniques,” so in the great card game of adult human interaction, I never know what card to play with the hand I’ve been dealt.

Nevertheless, I’m still intrigued by people. I watched Midnight in Paris for the 20th time last week, and once again I made a new revelation. The lead character Gil steps back in time to mingle with his literary and art heroes–the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, Picasso. Quite interestingly, the movie depicts all of these greats as having their own vulnerabilities, well protected, but present nevertheless. We ALL have them.

I wish I could sit down with a few of these famous faces and just talk–minus the facades, minus the manipulation, minus the arrogance and haughty presentation. I want to understand the real THEM.

If you could pick TEN people to TALK to, who would they be? Why?

I have my ten. Some people might criticize me for not choosing all the great theologians, but you won’t find many “religious” people on this list. I can predict standard religious answers from people who appear perfect but who  hide their flaws, and the most genuine of saints, in my opinion, people like Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, are crystal clear.

My list includes people who are like muddy water. It’s hard to see through these people. My list includes some spiritual people, some eccentrics, and a few prodigals. People like you. People like me. People with flaws. People with potential. People with epiphanies. People with pain.

People are people. Everybody has a story.

Here we go:

Zelda Fitzgerald — She was such a free spirit, but F. Scott kept her roped in (at least that’s what the biographies say). She spent her the last years of her life in an asylum. Why? What drove her to such anguish?

Edgar Allan Poe — Never has a man ever seen so much misery. I want to know about the last days leading up to his death. Did he really have a relationship with God as I’ve read, or did he abandon the faith?

C.S. Lewis — I’d like to know what he thinks about J.K. Rowling, whom so many Christians deem devil-inspired.

Marilyn Monroe — I want to know whom she really loved, if she really loved, and who was responsible for her death.

Little Richard — It seems everyone in my town has met him but me. He seems to have such a kind heart. I want to see if it’s true. I want to tell him about my book!

Steven Tyler — He is maximum drive creativity wrapped in the appearance of  new-found sober sincerity, hopefully not faux. I want to know why he does what he does and what he really believes.

Benjamin Franklin — I could spend weeks talking to him about his rock star life during the colonial period. How did he invent? And where did he get those ideas? I think I know. Did he really lead a dark life in various secret societies?

Stevie Ray Vaughan — I hope to talk to him in heaven. Otherwise, I have a dozen questions about Jimi Hendrix, his guitar heroes, his guitars, and the helicopter crash.

Elvis Presley — I want to ask him about Memphis and his mama.

Rick Bragg — I’ve heard him speak, read all of his books. Maybe he could give me some real advice.

There she is. Now it’s your turn.

WORDS OF WISDOM
It’s wonderful when you can bring sparkle into people’s lives without fading away from your own true color. Keep the hue in you. ~ Dodinsky

The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.  ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Never apologize for showing feeling.  When you do so, you apologize for the truth.  ~ Benjamin Disraeli

MUSIC NOTES
You with the sad eyes / Don’t be discouraged / Oh I realize / Its hard to take courage / In a world full of people / You can lose sight of it all / And the darkness inside you / Can make you feel so small / But I see your true colors / Shining through / I see your true colors / And that’s why I love you / So don’t be afraid to let them show / Your true colors / True colors are beautiful, / Like a rainbow

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPn0KFlbqX8v=J7CPgxNSpwk/

FINAL THOUGHTS

seuss

A Note to My MiniMe

EMILY

I find quotes on the Internet all the time. I never take time to write them down, but bits and pieces of them resonate with me, even if I can’t remember the whole thing. Some of them are just too good not to share.

And since I don’t have daughters or nieces, I’ll dedicate this blog to the daughter of my cousin–not just because of the funny cartoon of us she created and shared on Facebook but also because of her passion for music and writing.

I hope I can inspire her to follow her dreams. My 200th blog post is for Emily.

Dear MiniMe,

f there is anything you should latch onto in this life, it is love. I don’t know a whole lot, but here are a few things I do know.

You are beautiful. God created you just the way your are. You don’t have to mold yourself to be anyone else’s dream girl. So get used to who you are before people try to change you to be who they want you to be. Learn to LOVE YOURSELF. You can’t love anyone else before you love yourself.

Love everyone, even the people who hurt you. And there will be people who hurt you. There are many types of love. Give the right type of love to the right person. Love doesn’t mean you have to change who you are. Sometimes the best way to love someone is to say NO. Some day you’ll become a mom. You’ll have to learn that the word NO keeps you and your children safe. (Remember that the next time your parents say NO.)

Your Great Aunt Ann (my mom) told me never, ever to forget that actions speak louder than words. Many people will make promises, but only a few will live up to them. Keep these words close to your heart every time a cute little boy looks your way. If you want to know if he’s nice, notice how he treats you–not what he says to you.

Some day you will like boys. I don’t know if you think they’re yucky or cool right now. But guard your heart and don’t give it to the first one who asks. You know how I mentioned I like quotes? Here’s the last one I found. It actually came to me as one of my Quotes of the Day sent to me in my email:

“Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep… wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you’ re just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky he is to have YOU… The one who turns to his friends and says, that’s her.”

There is ONE LINE in this quote that really made me take notice. It’s the part about finding the guy who “will stay awake just to watch you sleep.” I know it sounds a little sweet and a little creepy too. But let me tell you why I like this. When your Aunt Ann was so terribly sick, she was very afraid to go to sleep at night. She was afraid to be alone if something happened. My daddy, your Uncle Bud, would stay awake until she fell asleep on the nights she really needed him. He didn’t have to. He wanted to. He loved her that much. He watched her while she slept.

And like she used to tell me, love is not what you say–it’s what you do.

Love God, above all. Love yourself, and love others.

The best way to love others is to be yourself. Be honest. Never lie. Be caring–but don’t let people take advantage of your caring. (Don’t forget. Sometimes the best way to love some people is to tell them NO. Hopefully, they will learn they can’t always get their way by pushing others around.)

And you shouldn’t push others around either. There’s a big word for that–manipulation. It means to trick others. Don’t trick others by pretending to care about them just so you can get them to do something for you. Don’t pretend to care about others to get attention or to make you feel good about yourself.

Love is a verb. (I’m an English teacher. I had to throw that in there.)  Love is what you do,  not what you say.

Your parents and grandparents love you very much. That’s why they do things for you. (Don’t forget to do things for them too.)

Some day you will fall in love, and you will wonder, “Hmm. Does he love me too?” Here is one way to help you know. It comes from another quote I found: “The best possible thing you can get out of a relationship is that you’re with someone who encourages you to be the best version of yourself everyday.

Did you get that? The person who loves you will always encourage you to be the best YOU you can be.

I love you, My Little MiniMe.

WORDS OF WISDOM
Cherish the friend who tells you a harsh truth, wanting ten times more to tell you a loving lie.  ~ Robert Brault

If you’re alone, I’ll be your shadow.  If you want to cry, I’ll be your shoulder.  If you want a hug, I’ll be your pillow.  If you need to be happy, I’ll be your smile.  But anytime you need a friend, I’ll just be me.  ~ Author Unknown

MUSIC NOTES
When you’re down and troubled / And you need a helping hand / And nothing, nothing is going right / Close your eyes and think of me / And soon I will be there /To brighten up even your darkest night  ~ written by Carole King, performed by James Taylor

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN_HVup9oOg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK0z87WrhGo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE9NGS8Ynvk
(Okay, a couple of these are really Old School, but they still give me warm fuzzies inside and just make me smile.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Love Never fails

This writer’s early Letter to Santa

santa_claus_letter

Dear Santa,

I know it’s early, but I’ve noticed  the Christmas trees and the Halloween pumpkins are already competing for aisle space at the local Walmart. I’m sure you’ll be swamped this year filling stockings. Heaven forbid you have to stand in line on a Black Friday because your elves didn’t make their quota. The North Pole may melt before you make it back to load the sleigh.

So, I’m getting my list in early. You know I’m a writer, but I’m not asking for books or pens or laptops this year. I want something to elevate my mood, to entertain my Inner Child. It’s awfully hard for the writer to write when the writer has a bad case of the blues or the blahs.

So, if you don’t mind, could you please ask your elves to set aside these five things  just for me. I’ve been really good this year–except for the time I backed into the mail truck and all the times I got in trouble for not turning in my attendance on time. Other than that, I don’t think I’m on your naughty list. So here goes. You can start packing now. (Well, let me rephrase that. Maybe you’d better leave the Daisy Red Rider with Mrs. Santa and stay out of the malls.)

My List

I want PURPOSE. Michael W. Smith told me during one of our interviews that teenagers need a place to “plug in.” Smitty was right. We all need a place to “plug in,” a place to feel as though that’s where we belong. Right now I have a music studio that gives me a sense of purpose, a place to “plug in.” I hope I can keep it, and I hope it gives others a place to plug in as well. There are a lot of stage moms and dads out there who want their children to become stars. I don’t want that, Santa. I can’t make anyone a star. I just want a place where kids, from ages 9 to 99, can find their purpose . I know how it feels to be “disconnected.” I worked with teens in church settings for years. However, when we moved to a larger church, I lost my purpose because I didn’t feel needed. I kind of got bumped out of the jobs I used to do. I want to be needed. I want to have purpose. I want to help other people have purpose too.

I want TRUST. All people need security in their lives. I need security in mine. I feel secure when I know I can trust the people around me. I want truth. Truth builds trust. I like it when people tell me the straight-up truth. I never ask anyone to spare my feelings. Spare the white lies. I trust people who aren’t afraid to tell me I’m doing something wrong. I trust people who aren’t afraid to tell me they are doing something that might upset me.

I want LAUGHTER. Here’s a secret. I think you’ve done a pretty good job in the past with this request. I’ve had a lot of students in my class who have made me laugh. Please don’t stop sending me those people, in my class, on my job, on the streets. Laughter is good medicine. I know a lot of teachers have a tough time with the class clowns, but those students usually end up being my favorites. Please don’t send me the ones whose humor belittles or whose humor is crude. I don’t like sight gags much either, and I don’t even want to talk about flatulence. That kind of humor just stinks. But word play, mild pranks, good natured teasing? I’ll take that.

FYI, some of my former students must have been special delivery gifts from you, dear Santa. They were a hoot–even though they drove me crazy. And yes, I have forgiven all of them for their shenanigans.

(By the way, thank you. Clark and Darrell, I forgive you for sticking my hall pass to the ceiling each day. Nick, I forgive you for leaving campus to “borrow” a backhoe to dig into the methane pockets surrounding our school. Hayley and the Ditzy Chicks, I forgive you for the utter chaos you conjured in Room 32. Tonya and the Couch Crew, I forgive you for delivering a couch to my classroom so that I could counsel you all on your many problems–you certainly had them. Amy, I forgive you for starting a dance party when I stepped out of the room. Juli, I forgive you for catapulting a stuffed groundhog at me as I walked through the door. Curtis, I forgive you and the others for hiding behind the lockers and leaving me a “Gone Fishing” note. Emily and Ashleigh, I forgive you for “rolling” my room and getting me in trouble with the principal on Halloween. You meant no harm.)

Any person who wants to win my heart just has to make me smile. I’m a sucker for the kid who never grows up.

I want DEPTH. God gave me a pretty good brain. It’s creative. I don’t want to dull it through countless hours of watching TV. I want to think, I want to create, I want to discover. So, Santa, please wrap up some opportunities for me to write songs that mean something, to explore new places–Ireland perhaps, to read words that inspire and challenge, and to talk with people who can communicate with me on my level.

I want LOVE. I know, I know, Santa. Love is not in your department. And don’t send me to Cupid, either. True love comes from God. So if you can’t deliver love, I’ll take the next best thing–Starbucks. So, Santa Baby, you can slip a Starbucks gift card under my tree. I’ve been an awfully good girl.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE
One, two, three, ready, set, GO! It’s a proven fact that Santa stops at my blog first. Leave your Letter to Santa in the comments. Who knows? You may get exactly what you want.

WORDS OF WISDOM
If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.  ~ George MacDonald

What we are is God’s gift to us.  What we become is our gift to God.  ~  Eleanor Powell

MUSIC NOTES
No more lives torn apart / That wars will never start / And time will heal our hearts / Every man will have a friend / That right will always win / And love will never end / This is my grown up Christmas List  ~  Monica

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCf2PoTuh4Q

http://theboot.com/blake-shelton-god-gave-me-you-lyrics/

FINAL THOUGHT

GIFT

Do you really want that?

DONE

I’m in a position in life right now in which I’m facing one obstacle after another. Just as soon as I climb one mountain, I get caught in a mud slide, I find myself on the other side, rock bottom, STUCK in a mess.

We are many things in this life–children, parents, siblings, lovers, enemies, friends, dreamers, realists, workers, writers, musicians, novelists, painters, inventors, etc. The list goes on forever.

But we can only live one moment at a time. Usually, we can only wear one hat at a time if we are to wear it well.

Life is never without conflict. Life is not pretty. Life has it’s magical moments, but most of the time, life is just one page in a book that turns to the next. We have to read the whole story to get the message.

Sometimes it’s easy to give up.

For example, I want to be a writer. But it’s difficult for me to FIND my writer hat when I’m trying to wear all of the others at the same time. Something constantly gets in my way.

I am a teacher, but I can’t do my job well after 3:15 when the last bell of the day rings to release teachers. (Yes, teachers have dismissal bells too. And yes, a teacher’s job does NOT stop at 3:15.) Right now I’ve been carrying around the same bag of essays to grade, but something, always SOMETHING, prevents me from finishing them. I’ve carried these essays and other papers like them to ball games, music practices, family events, Walmart, field trips. I have graded while eating supper. I have graded while riding shotgun on road trips. I’ve graded in places where NO ONE else needs to know where I’ve graded.

The task must be accomplished. I can’t give up.

It’s easier, sometimes, to do the things we HAVE to do, especially if those things are for OTHERS. It’s harder, I think, to do those things that are for US.

I have sat down to write at my house only to be interrupted by phone calls, visitors at the front door, children fighting and screaming, spouses fighting and screaming, and most of all, by my own feeling of despair.

I’m not a quitter by nature. I am, however, a runner. When things get too intense, I tend to run. A few years ago, I faced some rough times at my job. What’s the first thing I wanted to do? RUN.

There’s a grand difference between running away and walking away. Sometimes, in order to triumph over an obstacle, a person has to calmly change direction to find peace. If a job, for example, is creating health issues, I say pack up and move on. However, don’t run scared. Think it out. Use your brain. Make a plan. Never run blindly. You never know what you might run into, something perhaps worse than the previous situation.

Sometimes I’ve wanted to run away from writing.

I can hear myself now. “I give up. I quit. I can’t do this. Forget it. I’ll never be a writer. I’m destined to do for others the rest of my life. I’ll never have my heart’s desire.”

Have those words or thoughts ever crossed your mind?

Why do those words resonate? Because they echo what WE want.. Because we feel selfish for wanting anything for ourselves.

Life is very, very short. My father never wanted to do the job he did. He was a printer. It was a messy job with few perks and tremendous stress. His blood pressure skyrocketed because of the demands. He had to meet deadlines that depended on how other people performed their duties. (Hmmm. Sounds a lot like teaching.) My dad always wanted to own his own business, maybe a sporting goods store. He never truly entertained the idea. He thought it was impossible.

My dad raised somebody very much different than himself. He raised a dreamer, a people pleaser, but a dreamer nonetheless. I know, I know, I know what I want, what I need. But it won’t come easily to me, if it comes at all. Is taking a chance on a dream worth the risk?

Face it. Not getting what you want is equivalent to rejection. Is taking a chance worth the rejection?

By the time most writers have really bought into their dreams of publication, they have developed a sardonic sense of humor about their rejection letters. They file them. They categorize them. They write about them. They frame them and hang them on the wall. Most of them get excited just to GET a rejection–a rejection is better than nothing at all (which is what MOST of us get).

The dream doesn’t have to be about writing. You know what your dream is.

The point here is that WHEN we know, we know, we know, what we want, we usually find ourselves at a crossroads. Rarely, do we get what we want without a challenge. It is so very easy to give up. It’s easy to run. It’s easy to make excuses. It’s easier to substitute something else for what we really want. And we lie to ourselves and tell ourselves we’re happy.

Rarely do we achieve our treasures without going on a quest. But first we have to decide, “Do I really want that? Really?”

It’s easy to talk a good talk. Action is a different story.

If we REALLY want something, we have to make clear, very clear, that we want it. The first person we have to convince is ourselves. Then we have to do what it takes to make the dream come true. We have to wrestle the key to the door between us and our treasure from whoever or whatever holds it (an editor, an employer, an agent, etc.)

Above all, we have to decide if getting what we want is worth the effort. Are we willing to shed a few tears, stay up late, struggle, risk rejection, fight fears, stand face to face with opposition?

The NaNo writing project is happening right now. I’m already behind. I’ll catch up. Sometimes we get sidetracked, but we can find our way back to our path.

Do you know what you want? Then do something about it! Maybe the only thing that has kept you from it is yourself.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE
What words of advice to you have for others who really, really want something but must overcome obstacles to achieve it? Were you ever a runner or a quitter? How did you overcome the problem? Have you ever had to walk away or to find a new direction to achieve your dream?

WORDS OF WISDOM
Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it.  I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.  ~ Charles F. Kettering

MUSIC NOTES
So often in time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key. – The Eagles

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-5GnZYxI4M

FINAL THOUGHT

Perfect-Moment

Just a moment

seize-the-moment

I love both of my sons, and I’m extremely proud of each, but tonight I had a “moment” with my younger son. “Moments” are few and far between now that he is a teenager.

My son Michael is a very quirky child. For the first years of his life, he was MINE. His father was always busy doing church things or football things, not bad things, good things, but things. And Michael and I spent a lot of time together.

I won’t call him a Mama’s boy. I will confess he was a Pa’s boy because when I couldn’t be with him, he spent days at my parents’ house while I was teaching. My father was retired then. He was still working when Josh was a pre-schooler. Josh was Granny’s boy.

He and Pa worked in the shop out back where my dad turned up the radio and stored all the baseball and basketball equipment. Michael drew signs and posted them. He’d work for a dollar, the sign read. I don’t know what he thought he’d make in the shop, but it was his shop and Pa’s.  It took me a long, long time to go in that shop after I lost my father. It’s very, very special.

Michael never was an easy child. He was never a bad child, but he was a busy child. No, I never had him tested for a label, but he was always moving. Before he was born, he moved. After he was born, he wouldn’t sleep. I finally had to let him sleep with me just so I could get some sleep.

But even then, he was always moving. I slept in a big bed, and though I placed pillows as a barrier, Michael, as a tiny baby, rolled out of bed almost every night. I was alarmed the first dozen times, and finally I just threw him back in and caught what few winks I could get.

When I took him to have his picture made at Walmart, I made Josh come along too. Brothers, you know. The lady photographer gave  Michael, who was about two at the time, a ball to hold. As soon as she prepared to snap the shot, Michael threw the ball at her. It was funny at first. Not so much the next 15 times. Josh cried. I almost cried. I think the lady photographer cried. Not Michael. He was grinning with a gleam in his eye.

Michael also took to throwing his pacifier. His prime target? My father as he slept on the couch. Michael would stand in his playpen and aim for my dad and catch him—boom, between the eyes every time.

To my dad, Michael was his playmate. My dad bought him a Looney Tunes toy guitar, and he videotaped Michael singing nonsensical lyrics and dancing a jig while strumming the guitar. The video is still around somewhere. He bought Michael a toy microphone that amplified his voice. He played the French harp, and Michael danced and sang.

And boy did he dance—on the baseball field, on the soccer field, on the football field, on the basketball court. He had rhythm and knew how to use it. There is a rhythm to sports, you know. And because Michael was for years in the 1 percentile of his age group in terms of height and weight, he had to work extra hard to compete with his peers.

When he was four, he was so tiny that the monster players on the rec league basketball team were in shock when Michael sneaked under their noses and stole their ball. He hung on to it too like a Chihuahua verses a pitbull vying for a rawhide bone. And on the baseball field at the short stop position, Michael danced to a beat no one else could hear. He didn’t realize it himself, but my dad and I sat in the bleachers and laughed. Those were special times, watching Michael be Michael.

And Michael had this extremely odd fascination with numbers when he was a baby. He was very, very slow to talk and didn’t until he was well past two. I worried that he had a hearing problem, and one of his doctors suggested he might because his ear drum wasn’t vibrating as it should.

His first word was ball, but his first verbal game was Show Me the Number. Before he could talk he knew his numbers, so when we were out and about I kept him busy by asking him to find a certain number on the sales sign on clothing racks. Later, I made up simple algebraic equations for him to solve. He begged me over and over and over for another one. I thought it was a good sign, his interest in math. But, not so much now. Math became difficult for him. I always thought good math students were inclined to be the best musicians. I hoped he would love math. Not so much.

And I hoped the Bell—Hanson music gene had been passed down to him.

Although the Bell cousins don’t get together as often as we used to as children, we ALL have this music gene. All of us. I think we all have guitars. Some of us have pianos. And we write. And we draw and paint. That’s who we are. All of us. I used to think I had “the gift.” Now I realize I am not unique. We all have “the gift,” and others in my family are much better than I.

Josh and I took piano together when he was in elementary school, and later on he played trumpet in the junior high band. While in high school, he picked up the guitar and could play some decent chords. He makes films now. He’s still an artist and works with music and musicians. He has the music in him too.

Michael, however, has his own rhythm. I can feel it.

One day it hit me that he needed to at least TRY playing drums, so off to find a teacher we went.  Not surprisingly, he is decent teen drummer today. He is not the best. He is not the worst. He does not practice as he should.

But tonight Michael and I had “a moment.” After his regular drum lessons, Michael saw a keyboard, and being the monkey that he is, he had to touch it. Then he had to make noises on it. LOUD NOISES. And he had to make fun of some of the songs programmed on it. He laughed at the music, but I saw the look on his face. I understood it because I had that look once. He couldn’t NOT touch the keyboard.

Most people wouldn’t catch that look, but I saw the light bulb go off in his head. The connection had been made. The keyboard intrigued him, and it was déjà vu all over again, just like the times when he could be couldn’t stand still while playing short stop. He had to dance, this time in his mind, and his thoughts whirled with the possibilities of what a keyboard player could do in a band.

And although he is a conundrum, loving attention and hiding from it at the same time, the keyboard held a magnetic attraction for him.

And as soon as we walked in the door to our house, we sat down at my piano, and he attacked the keys in a middle-school “I don’t want to look dumb by accident so I’ll act stupid on purpose” fashion. But he settled long enough for me to show him how to play a simple C scale, how to make chords, how to improvise a song.

And within minutes he could name the notes, play several chords, and slip his thumb under his finger so that he could play all eight notes in the scale fluidly. And we sat there TOGETHER playing for a long time.

And he never complained. And he started composing his own melodies. And he smiled. And we laughed. And it felt like he was MY BOY again before he became my teenager.

The moment became “a special moment” because it made me think of Father’s Day 2011. On this day my dad asked me to play guitar while he played the French Harp. I played all the songs he remembered me playing when I was a little girl. A little Jimmie Rodgers and my signature “Under the Double Eagle,” which I have to play at every Bell shindig. There is music at every Bell shindig.

But that day, for my dad, we had “a moment.” It was our last Father’s Day.

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared “a moment” with anyone. It’s hard to get up each day. The chorus keeps repeating, and I can’t change verses despite how hard as I try.  Often I feel as though people I care about give up on me because I’ve given up on me.

But  tonight my “moment” with Michael gave me one more reason to turn the page to Thursday.

WORDS OF WISDOM
“I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dripped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity.”  ~  Hazel Lee

MUSIC NOTES
I can’t walk through life facing backwards / I have tried / I tried more than once to just make sure / And I was denied the future I’d been searching for / But I spun around and hurt no more / By living in the moment / Living my life / Easy and breezy / With peace in my mind / I got peace in my heart / Got peace in my soul / Wherever I’m going, I’m already home ~ Jason Mraz, “Living in the Moment”

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngNCfRgW6Vk

FINAL THOUGHT

Live-for-Each-Moment

Confessions of a RomCom addict

FAIRY TALE

My name is Teresa, and I am a RomCom addict.

I can’t deny it. Given the opportunity to camp out in front of the TV for a night, I’ll choose a romantic comedy over an action movie anytime. Why? Because the romantic comedy is a concrete manifestation of who I want to be and how I want my life to be.

If we take a closer look at why we like certain genres of fiction, we can learn a little more about ourselves–and others. It’s kind of like taking a personality analysis, like the Briggs-Myers or Jung Typology.  But analyzing our movie choices allows us to SEE a picture of the parts of ourselves–and others. And, I do have an annoying, yet undeniable, habit of analyzing just about everyone I meet.

It comes with the occupation–teaching. It’s not that I face the enemy each day. It’s not that I am on a seek and destroy mission. But if I can get into the heads of the people I work with and figure out what makes them tick, then I can overcome the obstacles between us, nip problems in the bud, as Barney Fife would say. The objective is to work together, not in opposition. I also learn more about me and why I do what I do.

But I digress. My mission here is to confess my attraction to romantic comedies and to explain why I am drawn to them like a bug to a light.

SERENDIPITY

Basically, the most alluring element of romantic comedies is that they spotlight the yearning created when we find ourselves in one place while wanting to be somewhere else. Take the case the case of Jonathan Trager and Sara Thomas in the movie Serendipity, my all-time favorite movie and inspiration for this blog.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Jonathan and Sara meet by accident and realize they are somehow cosmically connected. However, their meeting seems to headed for a dead end. They both belong somewhere else and to someone else. However, they challenge fate. Sara writes her name inside a book, and Jonathan writes his name on a $5 bill. They send these items “out into the Universe” to see if destiny brings them back together again.

And not to be a spoiler here, but obviously they do but not without plenty of obstacles.

Wouldn’t it be great to know if we want something badly enough it will happen, even if obstacles are involved? If we want something badly enough, we’re willing to take on a few obstacles. Right?

Everybody has dreams that don’t come true. Every little boy doesn’t grow up to be a professional football player, and every little girl doesn’t grow up to become Homecoming Queen. RomComs take care of that little detail. Every RomCom has the happy ending that real life doesn’t provide.

LEAP YEAR

Another reason why I like a good RomCom is because the main character is usually a quirky, yet likeable, female who is on mission. No matter how hard she tries to make a smooth journey, she always finds herself in an awkward predicament. Take for instance Anna Brady in Leap Year. Anna has been waiting forever for Jeremy, her cardiologist boyfriend, to propose. When he doesn’t, not even on Valentine’s Day, she decides to take matters into her own hands. When she hears of an Irish custom that guarantees marriage if a woman proposes to a man on February 29, Leap Day,  Anna travels to Dublin, Ireland, to propose to Jeremy, who’s there on a business trip.

Anna’s travel plans run awry when she can’t get where she wants to go due to inclement weather. Her plane lands in Wales, and she has to take a boat to Dingle, where she wanders into the only restaurant in town. She finds herself at the mercy of Declan, whom she pays to drive her to Dublin. Although Anna tries her best to maintain control of every detail in her life, nothing goes right. Complicated turns to comedic. She loses her Louis Vuitton luggage, breaks the heel of her expensive pumps, tries to herd a herd of cows, and feigns marriage to Declan so that he and she can secure the only remaining room at a quaint little inn.

The point is, when everything goes wrong, everything turns out right for Anna. Her mission to marry the wrong man fails, and she falls in love with the guy who drives her crazy. She lives through rejection. She acts like an “idjit.” She falls apart, but she gets everything she ever needed, even though at the time she doesn’t know what she really wants.

I think Declan sums it up best when he says to Anna, “Why don’t you stop trying to control everything in the known universe. It’s dinner. Have a little faith that it will all work out.”

I think we all have a desperate need for IT to work out,–whatever IT is. Oh, to have the comfort of knowing, yes, life will work out.

AUGUST RUSH

My third favorite movie is August Rush, though some people may identify it more as a Chick Flick than a RomCom. Whatever you call it, I like it. It’s a movie that ends with a rhapsody. And in case you aren’t into music theory, a rhapsody is “a musical composition of irregular form having an improvisatory character.” Is that what life is? A composition with irregularities and improvisations?

The premise goes like this. Lyla is an accomplished cellist. Louis is a guitarist and vocalist of The Connelly Brothers, an Irish rock band. Succumbing to their mutual attraction, they spend the night together, but then their lives are interrupted. They go their separate ways, and Lyla finds out she’s pregnant. Before giving birth, she is involved in an accident, and the baby comes early, only to whisked away by Lyla’s father, who puts him up for adoption. The boy, a.k.a Evan, ends up living in an orphanage the first eleven years of his life, but he has something spectacular about him. He can hear music EVERYWHERE.

Led by a spirit of “knowing he will find his parents,” he goes on search for them. He follows the music. A street busker finds him and exploits his talents for cash. Evan becomes August Rush. Again, driven by his passion, August follows the music and finds himself at Julliard, where the people take note of his savant abilities and nonconformist methods and enroll him as a student.

His work is so grand his work is chosen to be played by the Philharmonic at Central Park. Coincidentally, Lyla too will play there that same night, and Louis shows up as well.

Louis and Lyla follow the music and find Evan. The family is reunited.

This RomCom isn’t like the others. The lead character isn’t a quirky, female. But there is a happy ending. Love prevails.

And that is the real message behind RomCom–love prevails.

No matter how ridiculous life can be, love prevails.

No matter how many obstacles and hurts a person has to go through, love prevails.

No matter how confused the lead character may be about what she wants in life, love prevails.

Love prevails. And in the case of August Rush, music leads the way.

Come on now. How could I not fall for a good RomCom?

Real life, however, is not always a RomCom. Any given day, it could be a action-adventure or a thriller or even a horror story. Just turn on the news. There’s your proof.

As for me, I will continue to play the quirky, clutzy, sometimes overly optimistic, sometimes doomsday pessimistic, spastic female on a mission. And I will go where the music takes me and wait for love to prevail.

WORDS OF WISDOM
[Love} always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

MUSIC NOTES
I don’t wanna wait in vain for your love;  / I don’t wanna wait in vain for your love. / From the very first time I rest my eyes on you, girl, / My heart says follow t’rough. / But I know, now, that I’m way down on your line, / But the waitin’ feel is fine ~ Bob Marley from the movie Serendipity

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you / Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you / But in your dreams whatever they be / Dream a little dream of me ~ Ella Fitzgerald from the movie Leap Year

Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance / With the stars up above in your eyes / A fantabulous night to make romance / Neath the cover of October skies ~ Van Morrison from the movie August Rush

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
www.youtube.com/watch?v=mARCRguuCrk

FINAL THOUGHT

Happy-Ending-Quote-192x179

 

When I meet the sunrise

Coffee date with ME alone. No sweet stuff, just coffee, and no Fido's. Some day, some day. Soon!

Coffee date with ME alone. No sweet stuff, just coffee, and no Fido’s. Some day, some day. Soon!

I was up before dawn this morning because I had so much to do to prepare for my job today. I needed three bags of ice, so I hit the road to Walmart and treated myself to a mocha this morning. It was Homecoming Day at school. I knew I wouldn’t eat lunch today, so I rationalized the Weight Watcher points. (Oh, how I wish life were like Whose Line Is It, Anyway—“the points don’t matter.”)

Weight Watchers, thank you. Because of you, I did not give into the pizza, wings, burgers, shakes, nachos, ah nachos. Chips. Salsa. Chips and salsa–the BEST food in the world.

And so with my goal in mind, I arrived at work super early, ready to work. And even though I didn’t have a moment to rest, the short drive to my destinations, along with a hot beverage, made up for the rest of the day.

There is something special about a sunrise and a cup of coffee.

Being the Romantic I am, I have plenty to say about the other hours of a day.

Twilight is a favorite too. And midnight of course. On a clear night the stars enchant me, and I can spend an eternity thinking about eternity as I star gaze. When I see a shooting star, I make a wish. I always make a wish. I always believe they come true.

And the wee hours around three or four, the spooky hours, I like to write. When I’m on summer break, I don’t sleep at night. I stay up all hours so I can be alone and think my best thoughts. I finally fall asleep. Just before sunrise. And I sleep as long as I like.

When it’s a normal work day, however, when I have to cut through the path of resistance and battle the alarm clock to make my body move on a wee bit of sleep, I like to find myself in my car driving before the sun comes up. Like this morning.

As I headed toward Monteagle, I watched the sky turn orange as the sun peeked over the mountain. I felt as though the other drivers and I shared something special. I can’t quite verbalize it. But “it” was there—the peace, the calm, the beauty, the newness of a day.

Sunrise reminds me of a snowfall before anyone has had a chance to tread on the freshly spread blanket. It’s beautiful and pure and honest.

I guess that’s what I like about sunrise. For a moment, nothing has had the opportunity to spoil it.

Sunrise is temporal like our time on earth. Like those special moments that God gives us that only we can ponder in awe and gratitude. Ironically temporal also means secular, or the opposite of the spiritual. I disagree with this usage. Sunrise, to me, is quite spiritual.

Maybe that special feeling I get during a sunrise is because that is when I can feel God nearest, without the distractions of work, fear, anxiety, etc.

I don’t think I can write during a sunrise. I think I had better leave my writing to the wee hours or on Saturday afternoons in coffee shops where I can be a stranger.

And write I must. NaNoWriMo (National Write a Novel in a Month) is just around the corner—November. I told myself NEVER EVER would I do this again. NaNoWriMo just about killed me a couple of years ago. But the result made me a finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest.

So here I am again. And thanks to MTCW, I have been preparing for it. The plan for Saturday’s coffee shop date with myself? A mental trip to the setting of the new book. (I spent this evening watching a show on the History Channel, which serendipitously may have provided some background for my story. Who would have thought the Knights Templar and Prince Henry Sinclair would have found a place in my contemporary thriller. Oh, I know I’m not the first. But I may be the first to take the story in this direction.)

And here it is after one, in the morning. And I have to be up early. I will miss sunrise. Maybe I can find another special time in the day to find that spiritual place I’m looking for.

Oh, and the coffee date with myself. I hope I don’t get stood up.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE
Think about your special time of day? When is it? Why? If you don’t have one, why not choose one? When do you write? Why do you choose this particular time?

WORDS OF WISDOM
Be still, and know that I am God.
~ Psalm 46:10

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing….
~T.S. Eliot

MUSIC NOTES
I feel the love / I feel the love / I feel the love that’s really real
I feel the love / I feel the love / I feel the love that’s really real
I’m on sunshine baby oh
I’m on sunshine baby oh
I’m walking on sunshine wooah
~ Katrina and the Waves

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7pEg3KXNcs

FINAL THOUGHT

who-can-see-the-beauty-in-a-sunrise-or-sunset-without-feeling-the-awesomeness-of-it-in-their-heart-nature-quote

The Trouble with Cats

Stevie Cool Cat

I have a cat, or maybe he has me.

The problem with this cat is I don’t know what to do with him. I’m an animal lover. I used to own horses, and I have three dogs. But you see, the trouble with cats is that they aren’t like other animals.

You cannot control a cat.

Ever since we moved into the neighborhood, my family would not allow me to own a cat. But then one day this kitten showed up. And he sat on the tire of our big truck. I thought he was an angel in disguise.

Our neighborhood is full of dogs, big dogs–big, cat-eating dogs–and when this kitten showed up, I believed in my heart of hearts there had to be a reason.

I made him—pardon the expression—a cat house on my front porch, and I stuffed it with straw. I bought him a feeding dish and food and tried to make him really comfortable. And he stuck around.

Eventually, I invited him in, and for months we sat together in my sunroom, enjoying one another’s company. He was perfect, everything I had been looking for in a cat. Totally low maintenance. He had no litter box. He asked to go outside, and he asked to come back inside.

How cool is that?

But one day he didn’t come back. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited. I realized this cat was not my pet. This cat was my companion. I loved that cat, and my heart sunk when I couldn’t find him.

And then one day, for no reason, he showed back up. Good old Stevie Ray pawed at my backdoor, and I let him in.

I knew he would be back. I loved him.

And so he stuck around—for a while. But then he left again, this time for a long time. My family consoled me and hinted that I would probably never see him again, but I had a feeling I would. And I did.

Six months later.

This time when he came back, I had the vet look him over, catch him up on his vaccinations—and surgically take care of “things.”

And for the first time ever, Stevie Ray became a permanent resident in my house. I bought him a litter box, and I closed the door and issued the warning—no more roaming around.

But now I have regrets. I know a responsible pet own should take ownership of the animal and make sure it doesn’t produce litters that may suffer abuse, starvation, or neglect. I did that. But I also don’t want him bothering  the neighbors, but Stevie Ray isn’t like other animals. He isn’t a pet. He is Stevie Ray.

I feel so bad that I’ve taken away his freedom. Surely, you have heard of this old saying: If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t come back, it never was.

Well, I think that saying is stupid.

But I can’t stand to see Stevie cooped up. But if I let him out, the dogs might get him. The cars might hit him. The kids in the neighborhood might torment him. I love him. I want to protect him.

I sound like his mother. I have to remember I am just his human being.

Over the weekend, I went to see the closing production of The Trouble with Cats, a comedy directed by my childhood friend. I couldn’t miss it. And I’m so glad I went. The cast—and director—did a great job. It was hilarious. But now that the play has closed, I can give a spoiler alert.

I couldn’t find one cat in the play. Not one—or was there?

Cats are mysterious animals. They always do their own thing. They seem to know what we’re thinking, but they can and will deliberately do the opposite of our wishes should it so please them.

And so, here I am. I feel like Phoebe from friends singing “Smelly Cat.” Please, if you will, join in on the chorus.

What’s a cat companion to do?

Dogs are so much easier. They sit. They stay. They speak. Sometimes they beg. And the sweet ones like my Lacy, shake hands and give hugs, well as much as a dog can give a hug.

But what do I do about this cat, who, at this moment, is perched on the sofa beside me, meowing and kneading? I spoke too soon. Now he has moved to my computer. I think he’s reading my words. I wonder if he approves.

Stevie hates the confinement, not all the time, but sometimes, and sabotages the litter box and its surroundings. Otherwise he seems to be happy. And I’m happy. I love this cat. But Stevie is a gypsy, a traveler. Can I really keep him confined? I don’t think it should matter if I’m happy. I don’t own this cat. A human being can’t own a cat.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE
Do I open the door and let him roam, or do I keep him safe with me? Think artistically for a moment. If you had to be one or the other, which would you be—a cat or a dog? If you’re a cat, what’s your advice concerning your fellow feline? If you’re a dog, what’s your advice concerning the cat?

Or you can just be the human being you are and tell me– WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT THE CAT?

WORDS OF WISDOM
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ~ Anatole France

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jlGRq8xZ4

FINAL THOUGHTS

Music and cats

Why do they do what they do?

why

Whenever Taylor Swift has a bad break up, she puts the poor guy in a song.

I taunt my friends and tell them to watch out. I won’t put them in a song; I’ll write a whole book about them.

Uh, wrong. I could never do that. I’m a keeper of secrets. I’d make a terrible member of the paparazzi. I don’t like intruding. I don’t like airing people’s dirty laundry. I live by the journalistic principal “Do no harm.”

But, yeah, if your path crosses mine, you might end up as a character (or part of a character) in one of my manuscripts, but I would never reveal the secret of your identity, not unless you wanted me to–or unless you are already famous. Then you’re fair game.

Right now I have two manuscripts under my belt, and, yes, I deliberately modeled the characters after people who have stepped into my life. Of course, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. And I doubt these people will ever know the influence they made.

I named one minor character after a server at Red Robin, and I don’t remember why. Maybe I liked his name. Maybe not. Maybe it was just because I was really hungry at the time, and Red Robin has the most amazing onion rings. I am a magnet, I draw stories from people, people I don’t know. Maybe he told a cool story.

One of my characters in one of my manuscripts is based on Little Richard, yes, THAT Little Richard. The famous one–thus, the revelation of his identity.

I don’t know why. I guess his humbleness and gentleness touched my life second hand. He met my parents and was so kind to them that I’ll never forget how pleased they were to tell the story.

And, yes, Little Richard, is one of those celebrities I have chosen to pursue. Notice I didn’t say stalk. He lives close to me, but he’s so far away. Other people run into him all the time. But I don’t. Why not me? Why not me?

Maybe I would scare him. I don’t know. I do believe people’s paths cross for a reason. Maybe they don’t cross for a reason. God wrote the story. He knows.

I love analyzing people. Every person has a story, and an enticing motive makes a great story.

I’m also into pop psychology. I stumbled upon a theory of  the German-American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm. It’s referred to as “character orientation.” Influenced by Freudian ideologies, Fromm asserted people have specific character traits which serve as powerful forces that guide their behavior and motive.

And people aren’t even consciously aware of them.

As a writer and a reader, I spend a great deal of time getting to know characters. I have to believe them in order to trust them. I have to trust them in order to like them. If I don’t like them, I won’t read the book. And, of course, if I don’t like my own characters, there’s no point in writing the story unless my protagonists win and the ones I don’t like get what’s coming to them. Is it okay to seek to revel in revenge if the plot is made up? I think so. I’m not vengeful in person.

But back to the personality analyses, psychologists have determined there are twenty-four character traits that fall under six categories, which are referred to as virtues. Four of these are nonproductive, the other two productive.

Remember if you are writing a book, you want to write it true, so you should make sure that your characters act true to their natures. If we go with Fromm’s research, our characters’ should fall within these parameters. If they do something uncharacteristic, then we should analyze their motives.

HEROS

The following are considering nonproductive orientation characteristics. Think character flaws or antagonist traits:

  • Receptive Orientation Characters
    Wait passively for others to provide them with things they need
    Want others to provide them with love and attention and are reluctant to give these things away
    Lose loved ones because they have a hard time talking about their feelings or troubles
    Have a hard time letting go of past issues
    See minor or trivial conflicts as a conflict to their security with a loved one
    Lack creativity–REALLY lack creativity
    Are quiet
    Have a difficult time making decisions
    Lack confidence in their own abilities
  • Exploitative Orientation Characters
    Take whatever they want when they want it
    Do whatever they can to get whatever they want
    Have no qualms about stealing or taking something from someone else, even if they have no real desire for it
    Manipulate others
    Hate those they manipulate but rely on them but also hate themselves
    Love to lead and live in the ruling class
  • Hoarding Orientation Characters
    Save whatever they have
    Hold back their opinions
    Hold back their feelings
    Hold back their possessions
    Grasp and refuse to let go of love, power, or other people’s time
    Desire order
  • Marketing Orientation Characters
    View themselves as commodities
    Think they can sell their themselves based on their good qualities
    Possess very few positive qualities
    Are typically empty souls
    Choose mates on a commodity basis
  • Necrophilia Orientation Characters
    Love death
    Possesses passion to tear apart living things
    Destroy for the sake of destruction
    See no hope

The following are considered productive orientation characteristics. Think protagonist traits or redeeming qualities of conflicting characters:

  • “The Person Without a Mask” Orientation Characters — (Fromm came up with this title.)
    Accept freedom
    Accept responsibility
    Come from a family that loves
    Prefer reason to rules
    Prefer freedom to conformity
    Have learned to become one with the world
    Love all

So how long did it take you to shift from your character to yourself? Stop. Don’t do it. The story is NOT ABOUT YOU! Likewise, as you are writing, remember that your character is not YOU, and your character’s motives aren’t necessarily the same as your own.

Let’s be honest. Did you ditch your character and start analyzing yourself? Yeah, me too.

I thought I had myself all figured out. But then I took an online test based on character orientation. The first test I took said I possessed “hoarding orientation.” Ouch. I do desire order. I don’t like letting go of people I love. I took another test, and it said I possessed “receptive orientation.” Worse–I’m quiet, passive, insecure, and non-creative. Non-creative? BIG TIME OUCH!

Who believes these test anyway?

My suggestion? Stick to using these tests–for now–to analyze your characters, not yourself. Otherwise, you’ll be drawn away from what matters right now–your writing. We writers are neurotic already. We don’t need anything else negative to self analyze.

Oh the crazy things we do.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE
Choose either your own character or a character from your favorite book. Take one of the tests below and answer each question as your character would answer it–not yourself. This exercise is great practice to help you see through the eyes of a character.

WORDS OF WISDOM
“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”  ~  John Locke

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”  ~ James 3:13

“If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.”  ~  Mother Teresa

MUSIC NOTES
“A long, long time ago / I can still remember how that music used to make me smile / And I knew if I had my chance / That I could make those people dance / And maybe they’d be happy for a while”

LOOK AND SEE SERENDIPITEE
Which of Erich Fromm’s Personality Orientations are you?
http://quizfarm.com/quizzes/new/DeanFS/which-of-erich-fromms-personality-orientations-are-you/

Fromm’s Orientation Test
http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/frommtest.html

FINAL THOUGHTS

ChickensMotives